2019—My Year In Review

picture of nawaz in 2019
Photo courtesy: My sister.

In this age of information take over, almost everyone has their own personal blogs, podcasts on iTunes, apps on the app store, and cooking shows on YouTube. I’m jumping on the bandwagon with my own creation after several years of procrastination, about five or six years, give or take. I have been wanting to explore my creative side for a while now.

After taking a break from work, watching several hours of inspiring tech talks, reading a ton of articles and gaining enough confidence, I decided to pen and publish my first ever blog post. My name is Nawaz Khan. I’m a Product Builder, dosa chef, and aspiring entrepreneur living in New York, NY.

My first ever blog post also happens to be my first ever “Year in review” analysis. I haven’t done this exercise before and I feel enormous joy to share a peek into my life in 2019 with my fellow readers and friends. So, where should I start?

If I had to write a caption for 2019, I would say, it was a “Year of Self-Discovery”. I had my fair share of ups and downs and I learned a lot about myself — things that made me happy, motivated or even sad. Let’s kick off this review by looking at some positive things that happened to me over the year.

Some of my favorite highlights of 2019

  • Visited my family in India after three long years.
  • Attended my best friend’s wedding.
  • Hiked in the mountains of Maui, Hawaii.
  • Landed three job offers.
  • Wrote tech articles on “React Testing Framework”, “Deploying React App to a CDN”, and presented them at Show and Tell events — mostly internal, at my workplace.
  • Learned about mindfulness by reading books on teachings of Buddha, attending talks and listening to meditation apps.
  • Performed a maternity photoshoot for a couple of my close friends at Marin headlands (San Francisco) around sunset with a priceless view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the SF skyline.
  • Cooked ~200 Dosas* along with a friend — I did not know I enjoyed making Dosas. We competed between us for fun and came up with new varieties of Dosa fillings each time we met.

P.S: *Dosa is a crispy, thin crepe made out of fermented rice and lentils with its origin from South India. It contains all the essential Probiotics and is 100% vegan. I organize “Dosa Socials” quite often and it’s a fun way to catch up with friends. I promise, I will dedicate a whole post on this topic as there is a lot of spicy content. Here is a glimpse of a “Bhel dosa” we made 🙂.

bhel dosa made by nawaz
Bhel-dosa from one of my Dosa socials.

Half-yearly breakdown of 2019

In the first half of 2019, I spent most of my time and effort at my day job, working endless hours, rushing after deadlines, dealing with autocratic and apathetic leadership and getting mental breakdowns from time to time. Even though it was not a great experience, I learned a lot professionally. It was end of April, I quit my mentally draining job, put my head down and started preparing for the so-called “engineering interview” to explore new opportunities.

After a few days of applying on career sites, the interview calls started flooding my inbox. Luckily, I had a good resume, the market was flaming hot and engineers were in higher demand than ever before.

Needless to say, engineering interviews are extremely stressful. Anything can go wrong, your favorite company that you adored can reject you for no reason (in my case, it was Airbnb — no hard feelings, it is still one of my favorite products). I had an organized google calendar for a couple of months in order to deal with this process.

After a few trial and error interviews with some companies and immense planning, in a matter of three to four weeks, I started piling up job offers. Once you start getting offers, you know you have successfully unlocked a new level in the game.

The phone rounds and on-site rounds in the interview process became comfortable to me at that point and I started to focus more on culture to see if it was a good fit for me to join a company — after all, you’re going to work with your colleagues every day. My confidence was on a whole different level and it was one of the most essential things that helped me in my job search process apart from my technical preparation.

There were many fun instances in my job hunt which I will share at a later time. The second-half was clearly the turning point of my year. Almost all the fun highlights that I have listed above happened in the second half.

What could have been better in 2019?

I wish I had challenged myself by setting some personal goals and checked on it every week, every month, and every quarter of the year, to see if I was moving in the right direction to achieve them. I could have prevented the external factors from influencing my decisions, and actions and instead I sat on the driver’s seat steering my life in a direction I had planned to go.

Traveling and Photography are two of my favorite passions, I could have allocated some time for it. Entrepreneurship, family time, and improving my soft skills could have been prioritized. I wish I had learned about this practice of reflection a year ago but here's a picture I took at the Haleakala Summit in Maui, Hawaii during thanksgiving 2019.

Haleakala summit, Maui, HI. 10,023ft above sea-level — Shot with Canon 7D Mark II.
Haleakala summit, Maui, HI. 10,023ft above sea-level — Shot with Canon 7D Mark II.

Have you heard the phrase “living life spontaneously”? This gets famously quoted by people who like to relish the mystery and adventure in life. I consider myself to be one of them. But, the former quote can be easily misunderstood to having no plans, which I did not realize up until now. So, what did I learn out of all these life events?

My Key takeaways from 2019

There is a huge world outside and I feel like we often fail to pay attention to it and wrap ourselves in a cocoon. Although I got some good highlights out of 2019, the journey made me realize that none of the highlights were proactively planned. This left me with a sense of emptiness, worry, and regret.

Good or bad, I cannot let the external factors decide my fate anymore. It’s 2020, a new year, a new decade and enough is enough. I have decided to effectively go out of the auto-pilot mode and take control over this year’s planning, execution and results. I am going to pick and focus on things that help me achieve the sense of fulfillment that I’m seeking.

So, what are my goals for 2020? I’m glad you asked. I have set some personal goals that I have been wanting to achieve for a while. I will share them in my next post — I wanted to keep this post short and also give me an opportunity to write a new post and practice the art of consistency 🙂.

To my reader friends in 2020

Thank you for reading my year in review, keeping me motivated and being part of my new chapter this year. I am super new to writing and I would love to hear your questions, suggestions, thoughts, things that I can improve as a writer, instances that resonated with you or a friendly “Hello 👋” would also be greatly appreciated.

If you’ve read till here, feel free to give me a clap, follow me on Twitter and Medium —this helps me to connect with you, keep track of the impact my post had, and reach you directly next time I publish a new post or a tweet. I will be writing more articles on life stories and tweet on the progress I’m making in 2020 — looking forward to sharing this positivity throughout the year.


Lastly, I want to thank my Mom & Dad for always believing in me, Sister for keeping me grounded all the time, Grandma for spoiling me as kid — from kindergarten to college, old friends, new friends I made in 2019, well-wishers, colleagues, acquaintances, and haters (without haters we can never grow). Thank you for supporting me through all my ups and downs. Here’s to a much stronger, committed and fearless 2020. Cheers to all and see you soon in my next post!